Tuesday 11th May 2021

Joyful. 17/51. #LifeThisWeek. 51/2021.

Joyful. 17/51. #LifeThisWeek. 51/2021.

The last Aussie-based link up is HERE!

I started this 5 years ago this coming September picking up Mondays when my friend Kirsty stopped blogging. There was a link up on Wednesdays until last year with Sue and Leanne called MidLife Share The Love and one on Thursdays for a long time called Lovin Life with Leanne.

Now, it’s me. This one. I remain committed to keeping the link up happening FOR sure until the end of 2021. After all, I have done the 51 optional prompts!

But for me this link up is MORE than a place for bloggers to share their posts. It’s a space for connecting with others. The one reason I began blogging in late 2010 was the same. So, I appreciate you:

who link up, and

those who also read,

and comment because that  is the way to connect.

The link up is not too much hard work at all for me. I thrive on it. I am hopeful that bloggers from Australia, the U.S.A. and Canada along with further flung places will continue to find a place which care about them, their posts and how they are going.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Thank you all. Denyse.

Today’s post is about fewer words and more photos.

It’s the date of my late grandmother’s birthday. She was a war bride  from World War 1, leaving her home in England to sail to Australia to marry her Andy. My Dad’s dad. It’s a sad tale. I have shared it here. However I like to think she was joyful in her early years of love for him and their first two children. Pity I cannot find the image. In the meantime, maybe she was a little bit joyful at my Christening in 1950.

Off to see Dad at Dee Why today, so will be commenting later when I am home

Gran is on the left

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

So pleased I have my smile back and it’s a joy to help others.

I believe as I am ageing, now 71, that I take more time to notice what makes me feel joyful. Sometimes I do not seek it, but there it is and I will say WOW. Julia Baird’s book Phosphoresence talks of finding moments of awe and wonder. I see these for me as joyful moments too. I remember them and I smile as I recall.

The look of joy on my face on receiving this amazing gift for my 70th

I cannot ever forget the joy I felt when I saw the image I captured….

This too is what I see when I am out: joy in nature, shapes, colours and more.

I was very joyful to get my smile back on 21 August 2018 after my cancer surgeries and reconstruction. I never take that joyful feeling for granted.

The Before and After of “Teeth Day” 21 Aug

I am also joyful that the Women of Courage series is making a comeback with some very interested & interesting women volunteering to share their stories. If you did not get a chance to do that in 2019 and 2020, let me know in the comments and I will share the information with you.

And the man who tells me his life is filled with one joyful moment after another…this is why he is my hero and star. He has taught me all I need to know about living in the moment. I call him my husband.

The man who said “Smile” is your word

Where do you find joy?

What or who makes you feel joyful?

Denyse.

Link Up #237

Life This Week. Link Up #237

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt: Taking Stock. #2 3 May 2021.

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Click here to enter


 

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Heroic. 13/51. #LifeThisWeek. 39/2021.

Heroic. 13/51. #LifeThisWeek. 39/2021.

As I am the instigator of these optional prompts you might think ‘ah that makes it easier to write’….well actually it doesn’t at times. This is one such time.

I was telling my husband about it and he said this about me. I wasn’t asking, but he told me he saw me as a hero.

“Displaying great courage under difficult circumstances and I see that in you”

He would say any more…ha! Man of few words and apt to give praise very rarely. However, it was not only related to overcoming cancer, but he didn’t elaborate and I know him well enough to know it’s cool that he sees me that way.

 

Heroic: adjective

having the characteristics of a hero or heroine; admirably brave or determined.”heroic deeds”

(of language or a work of art) grand or grandiose in scale or intention.

“one passes under pyramids and obelisks, all on a heroic scale”

Heroic: noun

behaviour or talk that is bold or dramatic.”the England star is getting special treatment because of his World Cup heroics”

heroic(a.) Synonyms: brave, valiant, courageous, intrepid, bold, daring, gallant, fearless, dauntless, noble, magnanimous. heroic(a.)

 

Some Heroic Actions and Attitudes by People I Know.

  • My late mother. She overcame intense shyness, some anxiety and being deaf in one ear, to eventually make her way into a new group of friends and social circles when Dad’s promotion at work brought us to Sydney leaving behind her family and all she knew. Dad told me recently that she did not want to make that move. I understood that from my own experiences in 2014-2015.

  • My eldest granddaughter. She’s someone who has overcome (and continues to monitor and do well) a serious life-changing auto-immune condition. She had managed it with support from her Mum of course but as anyone with a serious  health condition knows, it is UP to you…always. Onya Miss J.

  • My youngest granddaughter. Turning 6 very soon, her way of arriving in the world set the scene for future heroic and an attitude determination. A breech baby who refused to be turned, so Mum gave birth naturally (under safe conditions) and then when she broke her wrist a year ago, took the hospitalisation, surgery, and recovery in her stride. So cool….about it, I mean!

 

  • My late paternal grandmother. She fell in love, during World War 1, in England, with a Scottish-born soldier from Australia, recovering in a hospital near her home. She left everything and everyone she knew to get on a War Bride ship to sail to Australia. She always hoped to go back home to visit but circumstances of poverty prevented that. Became a mum to 4 by the time she was in her 30s, and it was the Depression. Sadly, her husband died of injuries in a workplace accident. She may never have liked her life after that but she was heroic enough to see it through, dying of old age in 1985.

 

  • My husband. Shhhh. I looked at the list and thought, I have no men on it. He is heroic in so much he does and is to me and our family. Early, medical retirement aged 30 was not how life should have been for him, and his family, but he, over time, made some great opportunities come his way to improve his health, our lives together and more. He is quiet, self-effacing but every day, in often debilitating chronic pain, he makes the most of each waking moment. He makes me laugh every.single.day.

And then, there are the Women of Courage featured here.

Back in 2019 I heard Jane Caro speak at Newcastle Writers Festival about her latest book Accidental Feminists. After that, I realised I knew many, many women would could share their own stories of courage if they were prepared to. More said yes than no. Then over 2019 and into 2020 over 50 posts were published here.

I am selecting a few, where I see heroic actions and attitudes went hand in hand in the courage of those women. I honour each and every woman’s story.

Debbie Harris’  Story.

From her post, back in 2019, here is her story. It tells itself. Her blog is here.

“We all need to be brave in our own way and make the most of what life throws at us.  It’s funny that anyone who gets a bravery award says they didn’t feel brave they just did what they had to do at the time.  Those were my exact words when I was given the award”.

Deb Morton’s Story.

Deb’s second son, is friend and author Rick Morton. His latest book “My Year of Living Vulnerably” is a must-listen/read. His facebook page has more. I am in awe of his words and more. Her story, awful as it is, is here. I so appreciate Deb’s involvement with this.

“I am a better person for what I have gone through , I am so lucky that my little daughter saved me , the fact that she needed me , helped, I thank God every day she came into my life and I know that I have passed on to her the ability to deal with whatever life throws at her, she is a hardworking and capable person that I can be proud of!”

 

Jane Caro’s Story.

In her earlier book, and as part of her story,  Jane wrote of her anguish when her first child (now very well adult teacher & Mum herself) was very sick in the Children’s Hospital in Camperdown and how a doctor’s words, below helped. Follow Jane here.

I asked for help (as going to therapy had taught me to do) and spoke to neo-natologist and grief counsellor Dr Peter Barr. He said these three sentences to me that began to crack the carapace of anxiety I had been living behind. “There’s nothing special about you, there’s nothing special about Polly (my daughter). Terrible things can happen, and they can happen to anyone. Safety is an illusion, danger is reality.”

Catching up with Jane Caro: April 2019.

 

 

By the way, IF you would like to share YOUR story, I would be happy to send you the 5 questions…let me know via an email to

denyse@ozemail.com.au as I see no reason why I cannot have some more Women of Courage posts into 2021.

DELIGHTED to ANNOUNCE: 2021 will have a series of Women of Courage.

After April, there will be more stories to share.

This is what I wrote today to quite a few women who I follow on twitter, many of whom I have known for some years:

Hello

In 2019 and into 2020 I had a series of posts written by women, answering 5 questions from me about being courageous. Given recent events here in Australia, we know women’s voices need to be heard more. I am asking you, would you be interested in taking part in 2021 series.. It can be using your name or anonymously.

Do let me know YES or NO…and if it’s a yes, your best contact email please.

Thank you,

Denyse Whelan

The page here takes you to the 56 stories already shared.

https://www.denysewhelan.com.au/women-of-courage/

 

 

Goodness me, with this post we are 1/4 of the way through 2021.

Make of that what you will!

If you celebrate the coming Easter festival, may it be enjoyable.

I know teachers (parents and kids) in N.S.W. schools are looking forward to end of Term One and some holiday time.

Denyse.

Link Up #233

Life This Week. Link Up #233

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 14/51 Self Care Stories #2. 5 Apr.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Gratitude & Acts of Kindness. 22/2021.

Gratitude & Acts of Kindness. 22/2021.

Last year I chose the word Gratitude as my word of the year. It challenged me at times to feel or be grateful but overall, I managed to not only feel it more than I might have but I also shared, as I said I would 366 posts about Gratitude as part of my Instagram account.

The instagram account for the blog is @denysewhelan_blogs and it feeds the series of photos which appear on the blog’s side bar. Ask for a follow if you are not already following me. Thank you!

In 2016 I chose Kindness as my word of the year and  whilst I did not even keep that post, this one was at a later stage in my life, in so many ways I failed at keeping the promise to myself. It was to include myself in being kind…to me! Soon, I will write more in the series Telling My Story about 2016 and it really was an even tougher year for me because…. I can be so incredibly tough on me!

What I Can Report About Changing My Thinking.

  • I am tough on myself
  • I am a judgy judgy person
  • I am, however, getting much better at becoming AWARE of the first two points because I use this:

“what am I grateful for today?”

I need to add, that when my wise, oh so wise husband told me he did this regularly upon waking and recommended it…I said “why?” or similar words. Now, of course from both the longevity of giving this a proper go, he is right.

Hey, husband:

You
Are

RIGHT!

and he also recommends both being “in the moment” because ….there is no other. No, he does not have a book deal but he is very handy both as a listener and helper AND a cabinet maker.

Learning from his example but also doing my own research and practice via daily meditation has given me a huge and wider appreciation for all that is in my life and has been.

A Daily Grateful List…I am making this up as I write…could go like this:

I am grateful

  • to be well
  • to be married to my husband
  • to live in a comfortable house
  • to have a flexible daily routine now I am retired
  • to have had a very stimulating and interesting career in education
  • to have enough funds to feed us well, dress us in clothes that we like and fit and to pay our bills
  • to know that I can see a doctor of my choice if needed, get medicines at a PBS rate and see my dentist for reduced rate check ups
  • to have reliable car to take me out each day
  • to be interested in other people
  • to have the commonsense to know when to take a break and enjoy some silence
  • that there is someone somewhere I know who can make me a very decent and consistent cup of coffee
  • that my family remains well
  • that my family is connecting with each other after quite an absence
  • to know that my elderly father is in great care where he is
  • that I blog
  • to have people respond to my blog posts and join in the conversations

But I do not make up a daily list anymore nor do I write 3 things I am grateful for.

Why?

It seems that I am able to integrate the feelings and thoughts about gratitude into my daily life.

This is very helpful to me when things do not always go my way and also if I become worried or fearful about something I can stop myself from going down rabbit holes and ask what is really going on? I can also then look for what is true and what I am grateful for. 

It works.

It really does.

Acts of Kindness.

In conjunction with gratitude for my life as it is now, I tend to look for opportunities for an act of kindness. I do not have the financial resources for these but I do have the time and notice when kindness is shown to me and do my best to return the favour.

Sharing my baked goods.

  • This was so good for me to do, and the recipients loved them in the COVID year. The recipients were the staff, including the G.P.s at our local medical practice. In fact they got quite a few of my boxes of little cakes and packets of home made biscuits. I felt that I wanted to show how THEIR kindness to us mattered so much. It was awful in those early months of COVID when so many government changes were made to regulations and their office staff took the brunt of that. I wanted to give a little bit of appreciation regularly and they loved it.

 

  • I also did this as appreciation to my surgeons. For my Head and Neck Professor Jonathan Clark and Team it’s now a given that I turn up with chocolate flavoured brownie slice and some little cakes. I love doing this for them. For my Colo Rectal Surgeon and his team, they were blown away with this act because I guess, not many people share home baked stuff.

 

  • I also took some down to the local Real Estate Rentals Team because they have been especially kind to us with ensuring we got a couple of great places to rent and also they cared about me when I had cancer. Their working conditions changed due to COVID too so they were really appreciative of a gift like this.

Sending friends a card or an unexpected gift.

I admit this happens less due to financial constraints but I try to think of friends who might be needing a cheer up or  “I’m thinking of you” too.

In one case, I have sent a Big Hug Box to a friend with cancer. I know it was appreciated very much.

In fact, it’s Random Acts of Kindness Week as I write.

I know my friend and founder, Lisa Greissl, is hoping for donations IN KIND…aka money, towards the RandomHUGSofKindness boxes donated to cancer centres. These are not purchased individually but are donated as a result of corporate and business donations drives and more. See here for much more about that.  Lisa was also a Woman of Courage here. 

From my time as a volunteer contributor in 2018 and 2019. I made book marks from my art, and sent them to Lisa where one day I too became part of a packing team for the early versions of RHoK boxes. For more updated information please use the links I have provided. Lisa’s story is unique and I hope you get a chance to read more about her and the ‘why’ of founding the Big Hug Box.

Have you found being grateful helps you?

What is your way of being kind to others?

Do you remember to be kind to you too?

Denyse.

Linking up with Leanne here who is the epitome of kindness! Lovin’ Life Linky, every Thursday.

And across the oceans, with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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Women Of Courage: Appreciation For Those Who Shared In 2020. 77/2020.

Women Of Courage: Appreciation For Those Who Shared In 2020. 77/2020.

The Women of Courage Series has now concluded.

I like many was sad to see it end, but with no further contributions waiting in the drafts area of my blog and no-one coming forward with their stories after the invitation, it was wrap time! I certainly am delighted too, that 55 women DID share their stories and they are incredibly varied too. But with one theme: courage!

It ran from May 2019 until September 2020 with breaks at certain times. The backstory is here.

The message I added to each post is this:

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

In 2019 I began with my post, and then numbered each person from #1 onwards. The colour I used in 2019 was this one.

In 2020 I changed to red!

Last week I shared those who told their stories in 2019 here.

 

2020 Image For the Series.

Leaving  January 2020 behind, it was good to launch into the 2020 series with this post: from Jane Caro AM, whose book Accidental Feminists helped me form my plan for a blog series and I will always be grateful for Jane’s support (and likes and retweets each Wednesday) along with those from Rosemarie Milson (#49) who ‘is’ Newcastle Writers Festival Director.

Catching up with Jane Caro: April 2019.

 

Jane Caro AM

To read, or re-read the posts of these Women of Courage: please visit the page at the top of the blog: here. 

Thank you all for sharing your stories. I hope you return occasionally to re-read and see what sharing your story has brought to your life.

Were you someone who shared your story in 2020?
How did it make you feel once it was done?

Thank you again for sharing.

Denyse.

Linking here with Leanne and friends for the Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage: Appreciation For Those Who Shared In 2019. 75/2020.

Women Of Courage: Appreciation For Those Who Shared In 2019. 75/2020.

The Women of Courage Series has now concluded.

I like many was sad to see it end, but with no further contributions waiting in the drafts area of my blog and no-one coming forward with their stories after the invitation, it was wrap time! I certainly am delighted too, that 55 women DID share their stories and they are incredibly varied too. But with one theme: courage!

It ran from May 2019 until September 2020 with breaks at certain times. The backstory is here.

The message I added to each post is this:

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

 

In 2019 I began with my post, and then numbered each person from #1 onwards. The colour I used in 2019 was this one.

In 2020 I changed to red!

Women of Courage 2019 Series.

One woman’s story was shared anonymously in 2019. #25.

 

 

 

 

 

To read, or re-read the posts of these Women of Courage: please visit the page at the top of the blog: here. 

Thank you all for sharing your stories. I hope you return occasionally to re-read and see what sharing your story has brought to your life.

Were you someone who shared your story in 2019?
How did it make you feel once it was done?

Thank you again for sharing.

Denyse.

Linking here with Leanne and friends for the Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #54 Leanne @DeepFriedFruit. 73/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #54 Leanne @DeepFriedFruit. 73/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week and now the series concludes today with this post. Over the next two weeks there will be a look back at those who have shared their stories. Actually 56 women. The link to all of those stories is here.

Here is the introduction to the series and each woman’s story.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

 

Leanne, also known by her blog’s name of Deep Fried Fruit, has been blogging FOR ever..no, not really. However, I believe she started for a significant ZERO birthday and now admits to being at the next decade. Not one to hide away from her celebrations of life, she calls her birthday a festival. In real life, and yes, we have met, this person is warm, funny, generous and very caring. In fact, she stopped off on her family’s trip to Queensland two years ago so we could meet up!

 

Let’s get on with Leanne’ story…and I admit, she has written more than was asked but all good. The more we get to know about the ‘why’ of this lady!

 

Background

  • I look back and think of all the things in my life that took great courage and I guess most things do.  Every new experience requires some amount of bravery.
  • I used to be timid and shy.  As an only child I found safety in the walls of my own home with my tiny family.  Then one day my mum was told she only had two weeks to live and suddenly my safety was about to be stripped.
  • Her bravery of fighting the disease and winning, changed who I ultimately became.  Being timid in life was no longer an option. I learned if you want to achieve results you have to stand up and take responsibility for your existence. You had to find courage.
  • As a result, I’m someone whose meta programming is set high on the “challenge” meter.  Some people take the path of least resistance in life, others take the path of most challenge. I’m the latter.

 

My favourite quote is by Sarah Henderson:

“Don’t wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.”

That’s how I live my life. I spend a great deal of time striding down great big long tunnels to turn that bloody light switch on. Which means I need a fair bit of courage I suppose.  Although I don’t necessarily recognise it at the time.

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

My mum’s leukaemia, backpacking overseas alone, buying my first home, completing my degrees, creating a career, marrying into a readymade family, having kids, dealing with fibromyalgia. The standard stuff.

 

I think there are some major milestones that took more courage than others though.

  1. “Retiring” from a well-established career at the age of 36 to concentrate on my family
  2. Becoming the creator/founder of several small business initiatives
  3. Deciding to self-publish my children’s book series
  4. Watching helplessly as cancer took our (my husband’s) eldest child
  5. Re-entering the workforce at the age many retire

While point number 4 is probably the one jumping out as the most challenging event anyone could possibly face, it’s still too hard to talk about.  So, I won’t be talking about the loss of a child today.

Instead, given it’s current, I’d like to chat about number 5.

 

Re-entering the workforce.

 

How did this change you?

  • For the past 15 years, skipping merrily outside the boundaries of the paid workforce as a sole trader and finder of cool projects, I’ve been striding through many tunnels turning on a shitload of Sarah Henderson-esque light switches.
  • You’d think that with all the results I’ve achieved when I was out there on my own, re-entering the workforce would be easy. I mean, I’ve done so much! I’m a force to be reckoned with, aren’t I?
  • I would have thought so too, but no.
  • Going back to work” has honestly been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.
  • Why? Because I discovered something when I went back to work in corporate Australia.  I’m old!
  • I know right.  Shocking revelation.
  • I thought I could waltz right back in there and just be amazing. But it turns out I’ve got a bit to catch up on in the corporate world and apparently my brain isn’t quite what it used to be.

 

Re-entering the workforce changed me.  My confidence, resilience and emotions hit an all time low.

According to the numbers I am fifty years old, but my heart says I’m still a vibrant, intelligent and energetic 35-year-old who knows everything there is to know about everything. Hell, there are days I’ve got the mindset, energy and frivolity of a 20-year-old and the smarts of a 70-year-old Harvard professor.  Lingo and all.   Yet despite my love of life, my readiness to be challenged and the wealth of experience under my belt, the fact is, I’ve been out of the workforce for a bloody long time.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend?

  • Every single challenge in life presents an opportunity for growth.
  • While wallowing in self-pity, I realised I’d bumbled into this job without much thought nor planning.  Somebody needed me to fill a gap, so I filled it.  Then somebody else needed me to fill another gap and I filled that one too. That was my re-entry. I didn’t create my new work life; I simply fell into it.
  • It’s hard to stride down a tunnel with purpose when you’ve fallen into the tunnel.
  • So, I downed tools, re-wrote my resume, contacted recruitment and said, “hello world, here I am, and this is what I have to offer you”.  I took back control and started striding forward on my terms again.
  • I guess I’d like to say out loud for all to hear, if you find yourself in a job you aren’t enjoying, or that doesn’t suit you, or that makes you feel less-than, then do something about it.  Don’t stay there for staying sake.
  • I’m now focussing on my strengths, adding value where I know I can and not putting so much pressure on myself to be able to do everything.

 

I have decided to create my job, rather than have my job re-create me. Or more specifically, rather than have my job deflate me.

 

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it?

  • Absolutely, 100%, without a doubt. Our challenges make us stronger.  My challenges have made me stronger.
  • Facing problems can be hard. At the time it can even feel like the end of the world.

But looking back at the times where courage has been required is a fantastic reminder that we do survive them, 100% of the time, because we’re still here!

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

 

  • When you’re younger you tend to put up with a lot more heartache in order to get your foot in the door, particularly when it comes to jobs and careers.  I know I did whatever it took to show my value. I worked hard from the ground up.
  • When I re-entered the workforce, I thought I’d waltz back in without that need to go back to grass roots, and it was quite a dent to my pride to discover I wasn’t as shit-hot a I thought I was; or perhaps as I used to be.
  • When I hit rock bottom, I thought “wow, does this mean I have to start again? Has my experience over the last 30 years meant nothing?”
  • No.  We don’t need to start again. Everything we’ve done previously is still part of us, only we’re even better off because we not only have that experience, we also have a proven track record of resilience, growth and acquired wisdom.
  • If like me you don’t like your job, and the light at the end of the tunnel is dimming, then just stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself.

 

Anything else to add?

  • This “being back at work” thing is new, and I am still finding my feet.
  • But if there is one thing I know for sure; I still have a good 15 years of work life left in me in which to create something that suits my strengths.
  • I may well create my dream job or a whole new career, or I may just decide that my current income generating activity is simply that, an income source.
  • The bottom line is, if the world feels dim, I’m now old enough and wise enough to know where to find the light switch.

Denyse offering me this WOC interview has been a fantastic exercise in recognizing where my inner lion has been needed in life and how I can apply it to my current situation.Thanks so much Denyse for this opportunity to reflect and to remind me where to find the light.

 

Thank you Leanne, you are an amazing friend and definitely a great woman of courage and it’s my privilege to share your story as the final one in the series over the past 2 years.

Thank you to all of the Women of Courage.

Over the next two weeks, there will be a farewell and appreciation for those who shared in 2019 and in 2020.

 

Denyse.

 

Social Media:

Blog/Website:  www.deepfriedfruit.com.au

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/DeepFriedFruit

Instagram: @DeepFriedFruit

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

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Women Of Courage Series. #53. Yvonne McClaren. 71/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #53. Yvonne McClaren. 71/2020. 

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

Whilst I have not ‘met’ today’s Woman of Courage in real life, as they say, we have most certainly connected by the common (and not ever-welcomed) diagnosis of Head and Neck Cancer. Yvonne, who is 54, has shared her story below via the responses to the questions but to know even more about her and how she is facing life full-on these days, check out her links! Recently she appeared  too as part of the Beyond Five live video segment relating to food preparation and eating for those affected by head and neck cancer, particularly as in Yvonne’s case and others, relating to swallowing.

Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulty in swallowing. This includes problems with sucking, swallowing, drinking, chewing, eating, dribbling saliva, closing lips, or when food or drink goes down the wrong way.

The link to the video is at the end of this post.

Thank you Yvonne for sharing.

 

 What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

There are a few times in my life where I have had to reinvent myself both professionally and personally. I think my latest challenge with finding a large tumour on my left tonsil has been my greatest challenge.

There have been other life-threatening situations – involving motorbikes, but this was really out of my control. Once diagnosed I responded with ‘silence’ – I went into myself I realise now.

It was a difficult time as I had relocated countries, left my full time job to start a new life and career and had my heart broken all in the space of 8 weeks, then a cancer diagnosis.

Suffice to say, I had little time to grieve anything, it was get on with it and start the treatment. Everything was put on hold in terms of dealing with loss of income, loss of love and in some respects the loss of my beloved father a year earlier.

It’s only now, 18 months after diagnosis, that I am starting to mentally deal with some of the other issues going on in my life at that time.

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

I had no time to consider anyone or anything else really.

I was on my own and thankfully had my mum still in her own home where I could live whilst going through the treatment.

I had had a sore throat for many, many months and jokingly said to a friend “I think it’s cancer” not really believing it, turns out 6 months later I was right.

How has it changed me?

I listen to my body really closely now, I use to before, but this has made me very aware of what thoughts I have running through my head, what niggle is going on and why… it also made me realise that every second you spend worrying about some insignificant thing is wasted time.

Get on and do it and do it now. Whatever it takes.

I lost the last five kilos I couldn’t budge and then some, so that was great for me, not an ideal weight loss programme but it started me back on my fitness journey 15 kilos lighter.

I now have to learn how to eat again and for a foodie I have found this the most distressing, depressing and difficult side effect.

Food was/ is my world and I have had to retrain and rethink what that looks like now. It also made my fledgling idea about teaching culinary pursuits in a foreign country come to fruition.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

 

You always have choices, for me, I sat with it and the implications and thought about the worst-case scenario.

I was also told by a well meaning nurse that my cancer treatment had not worked and there was nothing more they could do for me. That sort of puts things in a very stark perspective, it’s humbling and it’s frightening.

It’s also incredibly motivating when I discovered that was not the case.

Learning to manage emotions is something you also can practise and become the master.

I then figured well if that’s as bad as it gets (death / inability to function normally/ disability) then make the most of what you have now.

I also discovered that you lose “friends” along the way, whether they can’t handle the new you, or who you have become or are becoming is too hard for them I don’t know.

I have had to make an entirely new circle of friends and have reacquainted myself with ones I have not had much to do with for years.

What I can say is, you are innately very strong you just don’t know it yet.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Yes, I am doing things now that are very much out of my comfort zone, although some would say riding through Vietnam and Laos on the back of a motorbike during a typhoon is getting out of my comfort zone too, but this disease and its side affects have made me realise that everyone has a message and a story.

In many ways this disease has focused my life’s purpose, I had all the scaffolding ready but now I have the ‘reason’ to hoist the flag on top of the scaffolding.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Don’t spend time worrying about things that might happen, focus on the now and take it one step at a time.

There is literally  someone else worse off than you, I’d hate to be that person by the way whoever they are, I guess it’s all relative.

 

Do add anything else that you think would help others who read your post. 

 

My job as I see it now is to spend my time doing what I love, what I love is cooking and if I can help others with eating difficulties as a result of HNC and its treatment then that’s what I am going to do.

I come from a family of teachers so it is not surprising to me that ultimately, I want to use my skills to help others.

I have set up The Food Manifesto and Soup hug as a way to bring a community together that suffer from this debilitating side effect.

I like to think of myself as the food curator for dysphagia, the link between your dietitian and your kitchen.

 

What a story of resurgence here. I can say that because I did not know Yvonne until she found the friendly facebook group for Head and Neck Cancer Patients, Carers, Professionals and Families. It is here, too, where I ‘met’ another Woman of Courage Maureen whose story is here.   There is another Woman of Courage called Tara Flannery who shared about her head and neck cancer here.

And this Woman of Courage shared her story. She is Julie McCrossin AM, who is also a Community Ambassador for Beyond Five and is part of the webinar Yvonne appeared in below.

 

Thank you again Yvonne. I am so pleased you are doing all you can to be well and help others too.

This is the penultimate post in the Women of Courage series.

Denyse.

Beyond Five, where I am a Community Ambassador released this video live just before World Head and Neck Cancer Day 2020.

Please take some time to view…and see what Yvonne shares from her kitchen and share with others who may benefit.

Thank you.

Social Media Links for Yvonne:

Blog/Website:  www.thefoodmanifesto.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McclarenYvonne

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/sustainablefoodandtravel/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_food_manifesto/?hl=en

 

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Women Of Courage Series. #52. Stella. 67/2020.

Women Of Courage Series. #52. Stella. 67/2020.

A series of blog posts on Denyse Whelan Blogs to be found here from mid-May 2019: Wednesdays: each week until the series concludes in 2020.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

 

I welcome Stella, who is 70 years old, to share her story as a woman of courage. However, I also need to share that ‘we’ have known each other for decades. In fact we grew up in a similar area of the Northern Beaches in Sydney and ended up being in the same classes from time to time at Manly Girls’ High. We are both in this photo. Can you find us? This was an image I shared in N.S.W. Education Week a few weeks ago. Stella and I ‘found’ each other again via facebook and another friend from that time, who has shared her story too. Ann Thanks for the nostalgic trip!

Stella Shares Her Story In Her Words, Here. 

  • This year is the 20th anniversary of the scariest time in my life. I was 50, really healthy, working full time and bringing up my two teenagers. Life was good and I had no worries.

 

  • One afternoon after work, I lay down to read, and saw in the wardrobe mirror that I had a very swollen abdomen. It was big enough to make me head straight off the bed and to go down to the doctor.  He was very off-handed, and said “So you’ve gained weight – what do you expect ME to do about that ?”

 

  • Until that point I’d always been a very shy and diffident person, and his words would normally have made me apologise for wasting his time  – and gone home feeling stupid.  Which could have been a death sentence for me.

 

  • For once in my life, I knew that I had to be courageous and speak up, advocate for myself and demand that he  pay some attention.  He did that , and sent me for an ultrasound which revealed a very large malignant ovarian cancer.

 

  • Within 24 hours I was in the hospital and had had a very long and serious operation. A week later I started having chemotherapy.  I faced all of that alone, since I had downplayed the situation to my family. My Dad had recently died, and I couldn’t bear to tell Mum and my kids that I might be going on the same path.

 

  • I plucked up all my courage, and did the whole thing solo. Every day I would meditate, and go for walks around the hospital, thinking positive thoughts and just enjoying little things like a new flower growing in the ward garden. I read good poetry , words to give me courage to face another day. The staff remarked on how calm I was, but it was really courage which was keeping me in that serene frame of mind.

 

  • One night my doctor popped his head around my door and told me had news. All the results had come back and as far as he could see, my cancer was in remission. It was great news, and I was able to go home  and back to work without too much stress.  The courage which I’d found within myself on that first day, stayed with me and gave me a very positive outlook.

 

  • Since that experience, I’ve become a spokesperson for women with ovarian cancer. I also trained as a phone counsellor, talking to women who’d just been diagnosed with the disease. I think that the courage I found on that first day, gives me a good inspiration when I talk to women – encouraging them to dig deep to find their courage, to demand good treatment and good communication with their doctors.

 

  • Ovarian cancer used to be called “The Silent Killer” because women didn’t know they had it until it was too late. 80% of them used to die. I’m one of the fortunate 20% , and with some courage in my back pocket I can speak for those 80% of sisters who didn’t survive to tell the tale.

 

Stella Burnell 2020 .

 

https://www.ovariancancer.net.au/

https://www.facebook.com/OvarianCancerAustralia/

 

 

 

What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?

  • I’ve had many experiences where courage was needed – in my work as a nurse I’ve often had to pull up my “big girl pants” and tough it out, but it was really my own experience with cancer which used my courage to heal myself.

 

 

How did this change you in any way? Please outline further if this has been the case.

  • I’d say that since the day that I first got the diagnosis, I’ve never again been the shy and retiring person that I used to be. It was a defining moment and I often use it when talking to other women, to illustrate how courage can help you to assert yourself in health situations. I am no longer the “invisible older woman” but have found my voice and I help other women to find theirs.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend to help others who need courage?

  • I learned that you don’t always need other people to support you, when the going gets tough. In the particular instance that I mention, I had to “fly solo” and in fact I found that it was easier because I didn’t have to be around other people. Solitude was a great healing factor !

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

  • Yes, I am. I found my courage at that time, and it stands me in good stead every day now.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

  • In a health situation like mine, I’d say that education is a great thing. If you find out everything you can – as scary as that can be – you will be able to face up to any eventuality with courage.

 

Thank you so much Stella, education is so important in keeping our health under some person control and if not, then to know who to go to for more help. You did this is so many ways and as I know, via the links above, have most likely helped many women who have faced a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

Denyse.

 

 

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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